Black Police Officers Sue Boston For Discrimination

Boston Police department discriminationThere is something strange about the Boston Police Department. The city is about 24 percent black, according to the 2010 census, but of the 51 lieutenants on the force, just two are black men. Of 23 captains, the only black man retired yesterday.

In 2008, dozens of police officers filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the state exam used to promote officers to sergeant was discriminatory. On Tuesday, nine black Boston police supervisors filed another federal lawsuit claiming that the city's lieutenant examination was discriminatory too.

Boston police officers are promoted to sergeant or lieutenant based mostly on the results of a written exam, prepared by the state Human Resources Division. Blacks and Hispanics consistently perform more poorly on the test.

"Virtually all big cities in the United States use these multi-component assessment centers," Harold Lichten, the lawyer for the officers, told AOL Jobs, referring to a more modern type of examination that involves interviews and simulations. "And Boston is using a 100-question pen and paper memory test from the '20s. It's literally like riding a Studebaker."

The racial gap in test scores is a controversial topic that reaches far beyond Boston police officer promotions. According to The College Board's 2005 data, the mean SAT score for whites was 17 percent higher than that for blacks. Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean score 61 points higher than blacks whose families earned between $80,000 and $100,000.

Because public schools in predominately black neighborhoods are underfunded compared to majority white schools, some claim that black students have not received the same training in this kind of multiple choice test-taking. The stereotype of blacks and Hispanics as bad test-takers may also be a self-fulfilling prophesy, in a phenomenon that Stanford psychology professor Claude Steele dubbed "stereotype vulnerability."

Whatever the reason, Lichten believes the outcomes speak for themselves. "The impetus for this [complaint] is the striking, shocking lack of minority police lieutenants," he told The Boston Globe. "The statistics are just horrible."

Boston stopped issuing any promotion exams after 2008, as it waits for the judge for the first lawsuit to reach his decision. All further promotions have been based on results from that year. None of the 23 officers promoted to lieutenant in the city since then have been minority, according to Lichten.

Under federal law, employers can't use a testing system that disproportionately affects a minority adversely, unless it truly predicts job performance. Critics of the civil service exam say it fails to evaluate candidates on qualities that actually make for a good police department leader.

"The Army would never promote people using pen and paper tests when you're looking for people who can lead in battle," Lichten told the Globe. "Well, lieutenants lead in battle."

In August last year, the U.S. Department of Justice declared the New Jersey police sergeant promotion test discriminatory. The state was required to pay $1 million in back pay to black and Hispanic officers, who were considered harmed by the system.

In court, Boston officials have defended the civil service exam. "The test is a valid selection instrument," said Bill Sinnott, corporation counsel for the city of Boston. "By valid, we mean that the exam adequately tests the candidate's knowledge, skills and abilities in order to perform the functions of the position."

But Commissioner Edward F. Davis has stated that he would prefer a more holistic exam that moves way beyond a multiple-choice test. He formed a diversity council to dream up a solid alternative, but the group apparently hasn't met for four months.

"I think the city would like to change the exam," says Lichten, "but it would create a lot of ruffled feathers to change a system that's been around for 50, 60 years."

"We have a mayor who's been here for 20 years, and has a tendency to not have city agencies reflect the city's diversity," Larry Ellison, president of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers and a Boston detective, told AOL Jobs. Boston, he points out, has never had a black Police Commissioner.

Lichten thinks officials are just waiting for an order to be handed down from a federal judge. "I think the Commissioner and other officials are actually rooting for us to win," he says.



Next: Police Officer Convicted Of Police Brutality Free After 8 1/2 Years



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ray

Why don't the under achievers take some classes that woulld enhance their chances if they really want to EARN a promotion? Perhaps the department could offer inhouse academc training in order to be bring the under educated up to par. It woulld be interesting to see how many under achievers would take this opportunity if offered. Those with real interest and pride would and these are the ones that shoud be promoted.While we're at it, let's require some psychology evaluations periodically to ALL police officers. There are too many psyco cops carrying guns and tasers out there. Black, brown, and white!!

March 03 2012 at 3:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craigo

"Blacks and Hispanics consistently perform more poorly on the test."

There is your answer.

February 16 2012 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
allisonisa39e

Competent people need to be promoted, not promotions just so there are more persons of some race being put in charge.
Using the Race Card to get promoted means less capable persons in-charge.

February 16 2012 at 5:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rowiep

More of the crying game! Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo. Lets talk about 47 years of more rights then whites>>>>>>

February 16 2012 at 5:11 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
bird

so this is what the blacks call equal rights dumbass

February 16 2012 at 5:05 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
edj6108

Even a football team needs one thinker.

February 16 2012 at 4:44 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Xhapytrkr

I always thought that you earned rank. Silly me sorry.

February 16 2012 at 4:03 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Xhapytrkr's comment
dytimmys

...Stupidest black guy trumps smartest white guy, with his Affirmative Action bonus points added in...Oh how proud that black man/woman must be to know the only reason they got promoted over the guy that did better on the test than them is because they are black ....
Now what hapens if a real stupid latino comes in or worse a Iraqi American, do they get picked over the black guy?
Also I wonder if the black people realize how much damage Jesse and Auntie Al does to them, there are some damn fine black people, better than most white people, but they get lumped in to this color thing by Jesse and Auntie Al....Stop looking at color, lets go by SS# no name age or race on the test and application, and hire the most qualified....
If you was a soldier would you want the smartest guy leading you into battle no matter what race....A white guy because he is white or a black guy because he got promoted because of Afirmative Action but was the 33rd smartest out of 40 on the test?

February 16 2012 at 4:47 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dytimmys's comment
vietnamvet1967

You are Correct, When I worked for GM in Ohio, I took the skill Trades test, I scored 8th highest in Machine Repair, and 5th in Electrician , When I was not asked to be one, I went to the HR man and asked why, they cancelled the Promotions, He SAID , GM and the UNION , along with the NAACP , we need 2 blacks and the too close was placed at 25 and 33, GM only need 8 of each at that time, so everything was cancelled because of this, WHAT A LINE OF BS , Four Months later a new test was taken the blacks scored 5th and 6th
They asked me to re-take the test , I said I am retireing GO TO HELL

February 16 2012 at 5:35 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down
otter

Give me a break. Everyone knows the white race is a minority now... When whites have 2 or 3 kids and most black families have 4 to 13 the whites should be hollering dicrimination and asking for the same rights that the blacks had for the last 25 years..... as far as Boston. if your not scoring high enough then so be it, why should a man be held of that job because he scored higher and is white. regardless of color, the highest scores get promoted and thats the way it should be. enough with giving jobs away because of color...make it fair, study for promotion...

February 16 2012 at 3:47 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
jjr141

Let me see if I got this right. They, the black police guys, want the State to dumb the test down so they can pass it. Do I have that right?

February 16 2012 at 3:43 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
theleatherwallet

"The racial gap in test scores is a controversial topic that reaches far beyond Boston police officer promotions. According to The College Board's 2005 data, the mean SAT score for whites was 17 percent higher than that for blacks. Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean score 61 points higher than blacks whose families earned between $80,000 and $100,000."

Thats not racism. That is simply truth. numbers don't lie. Black people are good at basketball....test taking is another issue.

February 16 2012 at 2:58 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to theleatherwallet's comment
dytimmys

Yep but if you say that in the press Jesse and Uncle or Aunt (whatever he is now) Al Sharpton show up for their 15 minutes of soul train, I mean fame....When is it going to be ok just to hire the best guy for the job...Affirmative Action, just means you are the "Stupid Brotha" who got a token job...I though black men and women were supposed to be proud of their heritage....How can be proud of a job you got because you was 20th out of 20 candidates but was black.....Let the stupidest guy on the test run you company or coach your college basketball team, makes a ton of sense....To much time has passed between blacks not being able to get into college and now, thing is blacks even get a free ride...FREE and would still rather "gets theirs" on the street selling dope or welfare. Why is it in a small town made up of all white people where I live, I may hear a police siren once every 3 or 4 days and its usually a car wreck, and I go across the river to a black city, and there is a siren every 10 minutes. When do you ever see fences up on over head passes in white neighborhoods, why do people go to the hood to buy their drugs on the corner.....If blacks want it fair across the board then all of them need to do the right thing, I know many many black folks who live the right way, but its always those few to many that makes all African Americans pay the price.....Don't they understand they need to be doing better to better their lives and their childrens lives.....Yes there are some real winners in all races but I have never seen a race that feel more self entitlement in my life.....Me or any of my family alive today ever owned a slave, and you and none of your relatives alive today ever was a slave...Nobody alive owes you anything, the most ignorant people in the world did to the black community over 125 years ago....Yes those were the most ignorant men alive who owned slaves, but out to get "whitey" now don't solve anything, I'm mixed I know all about hate some of you who are either all white or black can only imagine...but I prevailed with a Masters and PhD

February 16 2012 at 3:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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